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A quick note

I've been a bit busy the last day or two, as you've been reading. Here's where we were yesterday (well, one of the places, anyway).

We're off to dinner and a klezmer concert with friends tonight. Then class, dropping Bruce off at the train station, and a youth concert tomorrow to hear Sorena and her fellow young musicians, who are actually quite good. It'll be a while longer until things get back to normal around here. But I've had quite a good times these last few days, and so has Bruce. I'll have many stories about the Kiwi rube in the Big City. All right, all right, Midsize City. (And Murray, you're quite welcome to visit as well, and don't think you'll be any less of a rube than your brother. America is quite different from New Zealand. To say the least. I probably shouldn't mention the Kevin Sorbo quote about how every time he went to New Zealand to shoot a season of Hercules it was as if he'd gotten off a plane and back into the 1970s. Oops, now I went and did it.)

Anyway. More later.



That's not a gun...

Girl with gunBruce and I stayed around Richmond today, what with the chancy weather and the very late start (no more letting him watch Buffy until 2 a.m.). But we have pictures of him standing in front of various Civil War heroes, including Robert E. Lee who, we both noticed, was identified only as "LEE" on the plaque on his statue. Beat Cher and Madonna by more than a century. (Do yourself a favor and don't mention the words on the Jeff Davis statue to Bruce unless you're up for a long, angry talk on how inappropriate and full of crap they are.) I also got some interesting pictures of the James River and the Tredegar Ironworks (unknown to me before today; apparently without it the Civil War would have lasted three weeks and the South would have been crushed). We were also amused to be the only ones in the Civil War Visitor's Center, which is in the Ironworks building. Even more amusing was getting a phone call while watching the last film of the day, which had such memorable lines as "the Northern armies stained Richmond's soil with blood" (I'm so glad there weren't any others there, we burst out laughing at that one). And then Sasha Castel called, which was something else a bit unexpected. But in a good way.

So anyway, not really off-topic, as you will see:Rachel Lucas has been touted as the big female gun of the blogosphere. But I have some news for you: While I was out and about in Richmond today, touring the various Civil War sites, I think my Second Amendment bone (not related to the funny bone, but somewhere nearby) got bumped or something. So I bought a gun. And it's bigger than Rachel's. And really, although I am quite grown up, about the only thing I can think to say is: "Nyah, nyah." In a good way, of course, Rachel.

My gun's bigger than her gun.

(P.S.: Bruce got one, too.)



The Piece Process

Another champion for "Palestine" blew himself and dozens of others to pieces, once again showing how much the Palestinians admire and work toward the Piece Process. Sure. Give them their own state. Put it in Antarctica, please.

I can't write about this today. Go visit Lynn instead. She may have something to say. Gil can't do it anymore, either.

The good news is that Sharon is leading Netanyahu by 17 points. And the Labor candidate has effectively been endorsed by Hamas. Sharon is going to win re-election easily. Faster, please.

The Kiwi has landed

So Bruce got to Richmond safe and sound, although I was a bit late picking him up from the train station. Detained by a rabbi. I think that's a pretty good excuse.

I brought him to Extra Billy's, my favorite barbecue place in this area. Then off to the second-greatest example of American consumer society, the supermarket. I'd tell you his impressions of it, but his brother Murray would probably insult him in email again, so I'll just leave that sibling rivalry to its own designs.

Plans are to drive north tomorrow and see the sights of Washington. Dunno if we'll get a chance to hook up with any D.C. bloggers, but we both want to see the Lincoln Memorial and whatever else we can fit in.

So get this: Bruce manages to make it through the week in New York City without encountering any sort of mugging or crime, and tonight, the lead story on the Richmond stations was a shooting and robbery at two West End Papa John's pizza parlors. (Actually, Richmonders are a bit shocked—the West End doesn't usually get shootings and armed robberies.) Well. I'd best get done here. Long day tomorrow, and now it's near two.

Right now he's catching up on 7 episodes of Buffy season seven, and I've discovered that it is nearly impossible for me to concentrate on anything while Buffy is on in the background. It's taken me three times as long as usual to write this. Time to turn off the tube.



Captain Euro goes to Baghdad

Mac must have been inspired by Hulk Edward. There's a new Captain Euro, and it's great:

EURO: Of course, we must believe the Iraqis when they tell us. Honor is very important in Arabic culture and to disbelieve them would be an affront.

BILL: You've never found any weapons, have you?

EURO: No. Once I thought I found a surface-to-air missile, but the gentleman carrying it explained to me that it was actually a very large baguette.

Tell him Hulk sent you.


Carnival of the Vanities #9 is up. Go check it out for some of what bloggers think is their best or most overlooked work. Or just a post they think deserves a wider audience. (I contributed my Hulk Edwards post. If only Hulk were real, and I could send him over to say hello to John-boy. Alas.)

Oh, the title of this post? Check out the anchor in the permalink. (That's the part after the pound sign). My system is year/month/day/post number. Neat when it comes out like today's. Also very rare.


This one makes me proud: A search on "tiny bird actually illegal to eat in France" brings my page up in the tenth position. The illegal bird is an ortolan. The search is worth quite a giggle. I must call G. tomorrow and tell him all about it, as he was the one who read me the hilarious Richmond Times-Dispatch article aloud. (And we so regret that we didn't save the article. Tears of laughter, folks. The description of how those old, near-dead Frenchmen eat ortolans is hilarious. Napkin over your head is part of the ritual.)

I like Third Watch. It's one of my favorite shows. It's another John Wells show, he who gave us China Beach and ER and a few other things. John Wells and Lydia Woodward wrote the best episodes during their stints on China Beach and ER. Lydia Woodward wrote a hostage episode. Wells wrote a hostage episode. It's de rigeur for drama shows involving people at risk, and, well, it's fun to write, the actors frequently get Emmy nods for their appearances in hostage episodes, and hey, as long as I'm not the hostage, and as long as it's pure television, I'm fine with it. Well. This guy Eduardo forgot-his-last-name has been writing most of the shows on Third Watch this year. And I must say, Eduardo: You're no John Wells. You're not even a Lydia Woodward.


The Australian/New Zealand contingent is heading south tomorrow. Bruce Hill is invading Richmond. Someone tell Murray that I promise to take Bruce down Monument Avenue and get pictures of him standing in front of Civil War hero statues. We might make it up to D.C. on Thursday. If we do, Bruce will be able to say that he's visited the two cities most likely to be attacked by terrorists again. No, Richmond isn't one of them. He's been in New York visiting some other people. I'm not sure what happened, but I seem to have heard something about "duels at dawn" or "goddamned Kiwis!"

Yeah, I'm just kidding about that last. It's my own fault. I offered him a place to stay.

We have a retired rabbi in my congregation. He's my co-editor on the newsletter. We worked on the newsletter today, and while I was setting things up, the other rabbi (the one who leads the services) and the retired rabbi were talking rabbi talk. I've never had the pleasure of listening to two rabbis discuss rabbi policy (rabbi-ing?). I must say, it was nearly as amusing as listening to two Jewish grandmothers. No offense, rabbis. (Alas, they both read this weblog.) Well, at least they didn't nag me about being single.

UPS is going to be renamed by me to FPS, and no, the F doesn't only stand for what you think it stands for. It stands for "Frustrating." They've been trying to deliver a package to me since Thursday. It is a birthday present. I don't know who sent it. I do know it's from Hershey's. That narrows it down to, well, let's think... Hershey's... they make chocolate... I love chocolate... must be someone sending me tickets to HersheyPark. Anyway. Frustrating Parcel Service won't let you sign the slip and have them leave the package at the door, at least not when the box is checked "personal signature required." They missed me three days, I called yesterday with fire in my eyes, and they asked if I had a work address to leave it. I told them to leave it at the synagogue. I checked to make sure someone would be there at least until 6. I was assured it would be so.

Bastards came at five on the nose, and everyone was out of the building over in the sanctuary, except for the assistants, who apparently were all on a coffee break. Four attempts. Oh-for-four. Now I can't pick up the package, because I gave them a new address to deliver it to.

Shoulda sent it USPS or FedEx. I don't even know who it's from, but they probably think I'm a total shit for not saying thank you. It's not my fault!



Interesting reading

Charles pointed the way to this one. It's interesting, but I'm not sure how much weight I'd put behind it.

Coming into existence in 1948, the state of Israel has defied regular attempts by its Arab neighbors to destroy it. Arab nationalist rulers from Nasser onwards were willing to become Soviet proxies, if that was the price to be paid for the destruction of Israel. The Middle East therefore became a prime arena of the cold war. The United States shared Israel’s human and democratic values. Without American support, Israel would still have won its wars, but at a higher cost. Victorious round after round, Israel exposed the pretensions of Arab nationalism and socialism to be maximizing power in a new glorious age. The Arab world is in an uncomfortable bind, obliging Israel to fight for survival, and then having to accept defeat on the battlefield. Centuries of Muslim stereotyping affirm that the despised and numerically insignificant Jews could never achieve such a thing on their own. To explain away the unbearable humiliation of it, a view has taken hold of the Arab and Muslim imagination that there is a malign American-Israeli imperialist nexus, nothing less than a conspiracy which represents everything to be hated and feared about the West.

The failure of Arab nationalism and socialism opened the way to political Islam. In the past, charismatic leaders have often arisen with a mission to redeem or purify Islam. In Egypt in 1928 Hassan al-Banna, a schoolmaster, founded the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the official account, some Egyptians said to him, “We are weary of this life of humiliation and restriction. Lo, we see that the Arabs and the Muslims have no status and no dignity.” Islam was the solution. The Western way of life, al-Banna asserted, might be founded on practical and technical knowledge but it “has remained incapable of offering to men’s minds a flicker of light, a ray of hope, a grain of faith.” More dire still, the West, or as he called it, “religious and cultural imperialism,” deliberately conspired to destroy Islam. Political idiom drawn from current European ideologies fused with stereotypes set in place in the long-ago battles against Crusaders.

Hulk Edward: Animals crossing

Blame this one on my search requests, which suddenly melded "John Edward animals" and "Hulk Smash" together in my brain.

[The Incredible Hulk leaps out of a back corridor onto the stage with his trademark "THOOM!". The floor of the stage breaks, Hulk falls through up to his knees. He pulls his legs out and walks up to the audience. Audience applauds. Producer closes eyes, swigs from Pepto Bismol bottle]

Hulk: Hulk getting image of doggie. [points to small, twentyish man, nerdy, wears glasses] You have doggie that dead?

Man: Uh, no. No, I don't.

Hulk: Then you have cat?

Man: Uh, no, sorry.

Hulk [moving closer, speaking louder]: Then you have bird?

Man: [softly, leaning as far back as he can in his seat, sweating]: I had a ferret. A ferret.

Hulk: You had ferret? What ferret?

Man: It's sort of like a weasel.

Hulk: Weasel? Is that like Mole Man? Thing and friends fight Mole Man. He small, ugly man. Mole Man, not Thing. Thing big, ugly man. With orange rocks for skin. Ugh.

Man: I—I guess so. Please don't hit me. [winces]

Hulk: Bah! Weasel. What kind of pet is weasel? Even name sound funny—weasel. It sound like measle. Hulk get measle when Hulk was boy. Before Hulk was Hulk. Puny Banner-boy. Now Hulk never get sick. [Hulk turns and moves to the other side of the audience, stops in front of a beautiful blonde woman.]

Hulk: Hulk think you miss your kitty.

Woman: Yes, that's right!

Hulk: Hulk think kitties nice. Your kitty named Kitty.

Woman: Uh—

Hulk [louder]: Your kitty named kitty!

Woman: That's right, she was.

Hulk: Your kitty says, "Meow." Hulk not know what that mean. Animals too stupid to talk human talk.

Woman: Th—thank you. [Hulk walks up the steps between the rows, stops in front of a boy about nine years old.]

Hulk: You have doggie?

Boy: Yes.

Hulk: It have spots on it?

Boy: Yes!

Hulk: It named "Spot"?

Boy: Yes!

Hulk: Sorry. Hulk not realize dog there when Hulk sit down before. Talk to producer. He buy you another one. [Boy starts to cry] Hulk said he sorry! Boy, boy is baby. [looks over at producer] What? Oh. Folks, that end of show for today. Come back next time and Hulk help you talk to dead animals. Except for weasels. Weasels stupid pets. [Hulk leaps down to the stage, breaks through the floor again. Producer finishes off the Pepto Bismol. Roll credits.]



Must... resist... must... fight

See, here's the conflict. Since March, this weblog took a decided turn towards political commentary, mostly of the Middle East persuasion, with the major theme being a refusal to ignore anti-Semitism, and sub-themes being vehemently pro-Israel, pro-War on Terror, and occasional slides into sexism, metablogging, and subjects that get ignored by all but my own readers. The turning point was the murder of Danny Pearl, but the avalanche was unleashed after the Passover Massacre.

But lately, it seems that all I've been doing is writing about anti-Semitism, atrocities in Israel, more anti-Semitism and more atrocities in Israel. It's been not just All Jews, All the Time, but also All Rage, All the Time. And it is exhausting to keep up that kind of anger and rage. I need a break.

So I'm praying that the sub-human bastards in the Territories don't succeed in killing any Jews for the next few days while I attempt to recover my balance and right my funny bone, which has not gotten a lot of exercise recently. Well, until yesterday, anyway.

I figure you all must be exhausted, too. There's only so much pain the heart can take. So let's hope for a break in the action, at least for a few days.

Writing right

This occurred to me while taking a load of laundry out of the dryer and putting it away (all of my best ideas occur when I'm doing housework or taking a shower or driving somewhere—a mindless task leads to an empty mind—er, I mean, inspired, inspired mind).

Anyway. I was thinking that there are a lot of people out there who read this weblog who fancy themselves writers, and by that I mean fiction writers. So I thought I would pass on some of the tips I have developed myself, over time. In fact, this is going to be the first time I have ever divulged most of these writing tips, if not also making them up on the spot, but trust me, you can't go wrong if you follow them. Well, at least they can't make you any worse than you already are.

Avoid clichés: How many times have you read the phrase "the metallic taste of blood"? Well, I think it's both overused and inaccurate. I mean, who eats metal, and how does blood taste like metal, anyway? I once swallowed a nickel when I was four, and it didn't taste anything like blood. Oh, don't worry, my father picked me up by my feet and shook me until I coughed it up. I'm still here, aren't I? But I digress. When you're about to write "the metallic taste of blood," try this, instead: "After a punch like that, Joe could taste the blood-tasting blood from the broken tooth inside his mouth. 'Ouch, that hurt,' he told Tom."

You see? Far more accurate, and nobody else is using anything like it. Editors will think you're brilliant.

For that matter, there are too many clichés about eyes. You've heard them—"brilliant blue eyes" or "steely grey eyes" or even "steely blue eyes." Bushwa. Go for the accurate on this, too. "Albert focused his bluey blue eyes on Jack. 'Just for that,' he said, 'I'm going to tell your mother on you.' "

Am I right or am I right?

Then there are those who think that Hemingway was more than just a misogynist hack journalist/wannabe writer who used as few words as possible because he was too talentless to write like, oh, Fitzgerald. They want you to write Hemingway-style. Let's try it:

"She was a woman. She was beautiful. Mike liked her. But he knew she'd have his balls in a jar. She was the kind of woman that collected balls. Lots of them. So he left."

That was from memory. I haven't had to read a word of his since my senior year in college, when I read the Cliff Notes for The Sun Also Rises and managed to pass my final with them. How'd I do? I'm thinking I wasn't as subtle as Hemingway, though. In The Sun Also Rises, he just had the matador get killed by a bull the morning after he slept with the female lead. Guess it's that Samson/Delilah thing. (Wow, that virginity thing will get 'em every time, no matter what century they're losing it in.)

Ah. That felt good. I must have needed to get those tips out for a long time. I think they're going to go right up there with Mark Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." Ya think?



Feeling more at home

Last Thursday, I went shopping for a digital camera. I'd done enough research online and off to decide to buy it at the Best Buy in Glen Allen, which is a suburb of Richmond and about twenty minutes away from me. But I wanted to do a few other things, so I took out the phone book to see if I could find the Costco and a Popeye's (my favorite fast-food joint, the best fast-food chicken you can get). Turns out that they were all in descending order down Broad Street, one of the Richmond area's longest and most built-up roads. It's also one of the easiest ways to get around the area: It bisects most of the major highways and ultimately brings you back to 95 if you can't figure out where youare. The Beltway snipers made their phone call to the police from a gas station on Broad Street. So I planned my trip this way: Camera, Costco, Popeye's, home. Turned out that Costco was far too crowded around rush hour, so I bagged that one and just went for dinner after buying the camera.

The interesting thing is that was the Popeye's I visited back in May during one of my apartment-hunting trips. You know how the mind works: Your memories of what a place looks like when you didn't really know it are still there, and then later, as you get more familiar with the area, it's as if the person who first drove down that section of Broad Street, not knowing where exactly she was, or where she was going, was someone else. And that someone else injected her memories into your brain, just to confuse you at a later date. I remember the apartment I looked at on Gaskins Road or, more accurately, near Gaskins Road, that brought me to that area. I remember driving down Broad Street with sheer blind faith, thinking I'd surely find someplace decent for lunch that wasn't a McDonald's or a Burger King (I loathe hamburgers and eat them only under the most dire conditions). Or a Friday's. And I have distinct memories of stopping in the Books-a-Million to ask for directions to someplace to have lunch, and discovering the Popeye's was just a bit further down the road.

I keep a map of Richmond in my car now, and have for about two years, ever since I first decided to move here. It's not much of an effort to say, "Hey, I wonder where this street goes?" because I know I can always pull over, find it on the map, and figure out where I am. Although I'm still trying to figure out why I can't get back to Dogwood Dell every time I take a friend down Monument Avenue to admire the statues. Okay, maybe I giggle a little at some of them, but don't tell my Southern friends that. (And I won't say which ones.) ((Here are some pretty Richmond pictures for y'all to admire. Found 'em while looking for JEB.)) (((Look, I went and got all parenthetical again. This is a good sign. Perhaps humor will follow the parentheses.)))

It's a nice feeling, familiarity. Makes everything feel more home-like. I'm going to feel like a stranger when I visit New Jersey for Thanksgiving. Home is here, now. And here. (That's in Dogwood Dell, the place I can't get back to once I do the Monument Ave. tour.) Stay tuned, and I'll include some pictures of my own home, after the rain stops and it's worth going outside again.

A birthday tale or two

There's been more than enough hatred and violence to go around. Here's a story of love and joy: An illegal immigrant from Burma gave up her newborn son, who was adopted by Michele's sister and brother-in-law. He turned two today. Another effing Scorpio. Happy birthday, David.

And happy effing birthday to you, Stacy.

Finding fault with the Jews

I've been reading this paragraph over and over again in the stories about Hebron:

One of the flashpoints is the Tomb, where the biblical Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried. Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers in February 1994 before being beaten to death there. The massacre sparked riots that lasted for days and helped spawn the phenomenon of suicide bombings against Israelis.

Fascinating, isn't it? Even the adoption of suicide bombings are the Jews' fault. I'm sure I could have found a less biased source, but this illustrates completely the left's thinking on this subject:

The Oslo accords were announced publicly on August 31, 1993. The first Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel occurred in Afula on April 6, 1994. In the period from the announcement of the accords to the Afula bombing, the Hamas organisation carried out attacks, mainly using knives, on Israeli soldiers and settlers in the Occupied Territories.

On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein shot at dozens of Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriachs [in Hebron] killing 29 of them. On March 8, 1994, Israel's largest circulating daily, Yediot Aharonot reported: “The Hamas organisation has distributed a circular in the [Occupied] Territories warning of five major actions in revenge for the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs. The circular was signed by the operations HQ of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades — the military wing of Hamas.”

In the Muslim tradition, the first memorial occasion for the dead is 40 days from the date of death. And, true to Hamas' promise, the Afula bombing took place precisely 40 days after the murders that Baruch Goldstein committed at the Cave of the Patriachs.

The day after the Afula bombing, Tommy Lapid, one of the Israel's better-known rednecks wrote an editorial in Maariv: “The murderous attack in Afula should be taken as first and foremost as a revenge attack for the murder in Hebron. The dead of Afula are as much victims of Dr Goldstein as the Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriachs.”

It should be remembered that another attack, on the route 18 bus on February 25, 1996, in which 25 Israelis were killed, occurred precisely on the second anniversary of the murders committed by Goldstein.

The fact that this was written by Gush Shalom makes it even worse. Effing unbelievable. We have enough Gentiles blaming the Jews for everything wrong with the world. We don't need to blame ourselves. And what kind of sick mothereffing mind turns Hamas' detestable invention of the nail-and-ball bearing-bomb into something that was all Israel's fault? Sick, twisted bastards.

So of course, no matter what happens, it's all the fault of the J-E-W-S. Even if the author is also a J-E-W.

Wonderful. Jewish anti-Semites can go die already, too. I won't miss them in the least.


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.